Govt commits $800m to digital infrastructure upgrade

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Govt commits $800m to digital infrastructure upgrade

Bulk of funding flows to digital ID, business register modernisation.

The federal government will inject more than $676 million to continue the development of its digital identity system and streamline the country’s business registers in a bid to help businesses weather the impacts of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the funding as part of an $800 million digital business plan aimed at reforming how businesses interact with government in the wake of the coronavirus.

Ahead of next week’s delayed federal budget, Morrison said businesses had undergone “a decade of change in months”, relying on digital technology to continue operating through the crisis.

“Our JobMaker Digital Business Plan provides significant backing to continue that digital push and expand opportunities for businesses to grow and create more jobs,” he said announcing the package on Tuesday.

“The plan supports Australia’s economic recovery by removing out-dated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses and backs the uptake of technology across the economy.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the digital infrastructure package was expected to “increase Australia’s GDP by $6.4 billion a year by 2024”.

Digital ID

Central to the package is a further $256.6 million for the government to continue developing the Govpass digital identity system - more than doubling the government’s investment over the past five years.

The system, specifically the myGovID digital identity credentialing app, received $67.2 million in last year’s budget, including for integration into the online government services portal myGov.

But, as revealed by iTnews in July, the two systems - myGovID and myGov - are yet to be linked up, with the Digital Transformation Agency delaying the rollout after a pilot highlighted problems with the integration.

Morrison said the funding boost will allow the government to “develop a digital identity system to enable more secure and convenient engagement with government services, and in the future, the private sector."

The investment will also likely fund the anti-spoofing facial recognition software that will ensure myGovID can be used by Australians to access more confidential services requiring a higher identity proofing level.

The Australian Taxation Office this week went looking for a ‘liveness solution’ to prevent the creation of fraudulent digital identities and ensure the user registering for a myGovID is a “live person and physically present”.

More than 1.6 million Australians and 1.16 million businesses are already using the myGovID, which has been publicly available since June 2019 and replaced the ATO’s legacy AUSkey authentication solution in March.

Single business register

The package also provides an additional $419.9 million to continue the development of Australia’s future single business register under the ATO’s modernising business registers program.

It builds on the $60 million provided in last year’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook to begin development of a single, trusted source of business data to replace the country’s 32 ageing business registers.

The platform - which the ATO has worked with Accenture to design after an initial setback - will allow businesses to “quickly view, update and maintain their business registry data in one location”.

Other funded measures include:

  • A further $28.5 million to support the consumer data right rollout. This is expected to include the $19.2 million announced in July.
  • $22.2 million to expand the Australian small business advisory service - digital solutions program, a digital readiness assessment tool and a digital directors training 
  • $11.4 million for a new regulatory technology commercialisation initiative
  • $9.6 million to support fintechs export financial services and attract inward investment
  • $6.9 million for two blockchain pilots aimed at reducing business compliance costs
  • $5.9 million to increase Australia's influence on international standards
  • $3.6 million to mandate the adoption of e-invoicing by July 2022 for all federal government agencies
  • $29.2 million to accelerate the rollout of 5G, including funding for commercial trials and testbeds in key industry sectors such as agriculture and mining
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